Love Legacies

"I've been to more funerals than weddings." That used to earn me stripes in the sadness competition. Who-has-it-worse is a game I'm intimately familiar with. A prominent memory from my adolescence was debating with boys who had it worse in life. The variables would change weekly but the point remained: someone has to lose and I'd like to know who it is. There used to be a sense of pride that would swell up whenever I would reason my opponent into submission. But after living through some colorful romantic experiences, I started wondering how that mindset molded my outlook on relationships and love.

So I started with my foundation to see how many toxic ideas I inherited about love. I've been asking my parents about their love story ever since I can remember and every time I get a different version. From my father, there are undertones of internalized colorism, emotional immaturity and selfishness. He chose my mother because he never met a darker skin woman whose personality meshed with his. It felt like she would understand his damage and enrich his life. But they were young and made loads of mistakes. Infidelities, financial woes and feeling pushed into a domestic role was too much for him at times so he misbehaved. When my mother answers me, she apologizes. Actually they both do. However she reminisces about how they met through mutual friends and how she also felt understood. But when he ended up breaking her heart, she did not take the high road. She never says she was right.

Suffice it to say, my first example of love was riddled with lessons of what not to do. When I looked around at the rest of my family I saw more of the same. Yes, some were married but all were unhappy and lying about it. All the women chanting the age old black mantra "Men ain't shit." All the men ranting about how women don't understand them. Rarely did they ever meet in the middle. These hurt-driven people have kids and pass on the lessons they've learned without imparting any context or objectivity. So now when I look at my cousins I see them making the same mistakes the older generations made but expecting to get different results. My family specifically didn't teach me nor my generation how to be happy, how to identify good characteristics and how to sustain a relationship once you finally get there.

They can't give from emptiness. They certainly don't mean to cripple us with their past experiences and unhealed trauma. But there comes a point when you have to think about how your children will internalize the romantic life you lead. I learned how to be suspicious (though some of that was innate), how to hide my vulnerability, and how to detach even though almost all of those actions go against my true nature. And when I look at my peers, I notice we all mirror past traumas that have nothing to do with us. We've been set up to fail romantically.

The legacy left for me plays right back into the Who-has-it-worse game. I used to wear it with pride but now I've put it deep within the closet of unfortunate circumstances. There's no way to change what was given to me but I can determine how I give it to my niece and nephews. They don't have to suppress who they are because of bullshit that has nothing to do with them.

Evon Williams

Washington, DC

Lover. Writer. Budding PR/Marketing Consultant. Emotional and Mental Growth enthusiast. Sex Positive Supporter.

You can find me @goddessevon on most social media sites.